Posted by: Brian Hibbs on October 1, 2008
Besides the time pressures lately (once we get used to this Kinder schedule, things should be smoother), I’ve been kind of unimpressed with most of the comics I’ve been reading lately. Its not even that I hate them or anything — that’s always worth a few inches — but just that I’ve been feeling “Meh” about most stuff I’m reading.
It could be the lack of sleep, or it could just be me getting (more) jaded, I dunno.
So I’m really happy that in the last week or so I’ve read two things that fill me with enough love and joy to actually sit down and write!
We’ve received both of these books from Baker & Taylor, so I couldn’t tell you if they’ve made it through Diamond’s system yet, but both are well worth seeking out:
BURMA CHRONICLES HC: This is Guy Delisle’s third “travelogue” book (the previous two are PYONGYANG: A JOURNEY IN NORTH KOREA and SHENZHEN: A TRAVELOGUE FROM CHINA). I quite liked the first, but thought the second was kind of flat. Maybe because North Korea is more mysterious than China? Maybe because there’s more dramatic tension (such as one can get in an autobiographical comic!) in the repressive dictatorship than the less-repressive China? Maybe more interesting incidents happened in the first than the second?
Hard to say, but BURMA CHRONICLES, Delisle has a big return to form, with my enjoying this even more than I liked PYONGYANG.
This time through, incidents are often more fragmented from one another, and with a significant portion of the book being one-page relations, Delisle perhaps acts more like a cartoonist, and tries to find a punchline in each vignette.
Delisle’s cartooning is deceptively simple, but there’s a few places where his mastery of craft is really clear — especially in comparison to some of the “bad panels” he shows (from lack of proper ink to draw with, or tendinitis at one point)
What I like best about these books is they both teach me something new, as well as being entertaining in their own right. Delisle comes off as an extremely entertaining person who’d you’d love to be seated next to at a dinner party while he regales you with stories of his trips. This is EXCELLENT stuff, and I highly recommend it.
My one complaint: the book is in a different format than the previous two (no dust-jacket [which I actually prefer] and just a little physically shorter), and isn’t going to look as nice on the bookshelf.
TAMARA DREWE: Posy Simmond’s new book isn’t exactly “new” — it’s been out in the UK for at least a year, maybe more, but it is just coming out in the US now.
What a masterpiece!
It’s sort of 1/3 prose, from three different characters thoughts, with a mix of panel narrative and single piece counterpoints to the text. It is bold, it is supremely assured, and I think it is the best piece of comic-ing that I’ve read this year.
The story sounds a little dull on summary — it is about a writer’s retreat and the characters that live in and around it, and how they react to return to the area of the book’s title character, but it is sharp and expressive and extremely rich and vivid in detailing that world and the characters in it. I also liked how the book is ABOUT Tamara Drewe, but that the narrative focuses mostly on characters around her orbit.
I got lost in some of the British slang in a few places (thankfully, they explained what “paps” were a few pages on), and I think the TWO deaths at the end of the book lost some impact being piled upon each other, but otherwise I absolutely adored this comic, and give it my strongest possible recommendation. EXCELLENT!
What did YOU think?